Quarterly Mags: 2005 2nd

SECOND QUARTER 2005, VOLUME 24, NUMBER 2

Non-Profit Org.

U.S.
POSTAGE
PAID

SOCIETY OF
PLASTICS
ENGINEERS, INC

A JOURNAL OF THE THERMOFORMING DIVISION OF THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS

P. O. Box 471
Lindale, Georgia 30147
CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

The success of this conference is attributable in a large part to

Special

the generosity of our 2005 Conference Sponsors.

Conference
Pull-Out

KIEFEL TECHNOLOGIES, INC.

Section

A JOURNAL OF THE THERMOFORMING DIVISION OF THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS
“WINNER 2003 & 2004 AWARD OF EXCELLENCE”

Division
Our mission is to facilitate the advancement of thermoforming
technologies through education, application, promotion and research.
SPE National
Executive Director
Susan Oderwald
Direct Line: 203/740-5471
Fax: 203/775-8490
email: Seoderwald@4spe.org
THERMOFORMING DIVISION ORGANIZATIONAL CHART
Roger Kipp
McClarin Plastics
P.O. Box 486, 600 Linden Avenue
Hanover, PA 17331
(717) 637-2241 • FAX (717) 637-1728
rkipp@mcclarinplastics.com
Walt Walker
Prent Corporation
P. O. Box 471, 2225 Kennedy Road
Janesville, WI 53547-0471
(608) 754-0276 • FAX (608) 754-2410
wwalker@prent.com
Barry Shepherd
Shepherd Thermoforming & Pkging, Inc.
396 Clarance Street
Brampton, Ontario L6W1T5 CANADA
(905) 459-4545 Ext. 229 • FAX (905) 459-6746
barry@shepherd.ca
Roger Fox
The Foxmor Group, Inc.
373 South County Farm Road, Suite 202
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 653-2200 • FAX (630) 653-1474
rfox@foxmor.com
Stephen D. Hasselbach
CMI Plastics
P. O. Box 369
Cranbury, NJ 08512
(609) 395-1920 • FAX (609) 395-0981
steve@cmiplastics.com
CHAIR ELECT
TREASURER
SECRETARY
COUNCILOR WITH TERM
ENDING ANTEC 2006
Joe Peters
Universal Plastics
75 Whiting Farms Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 592-4791 • FAX (413) 592-6876
petersj@universalplastics.com
PRIOR CHAIR
Executive
Committee
2004 – 2006
CHAIR
Conference Coordinator
Gwen Mathis
124 Avenue D, SE
Lindale, Georgia 30147-1027
706/235-9298 • Fax: 706/295-4276
email: gmathis224@aol.com
Website: http://www.4spe.org/communities/divisions/d25.php
or www.thermoformingdivision.com
THERMOFORMING DIVISION
2004-2006
Roger Kipp
Chair
Chair Elect
Walt Walker
Secretary
Roger Fox
Treasurer
Barry Shepherd
Prior Chair
Joe Peters
Councilor
Steve Hasselbach
Nominating
Dennis Northrop
Publications
Laura Pichon
Recognition
Hal Gillam
Student Programs
Ken Griep
Finance
James Alongi
Technical
Committees
Newsletter
Editor
Gwen Mathis
ARRC
Rich Freeman
Antec
Don Hylton
Materials
Jim Armor
Equipment
Don Kruschke
Processing
Bob Porsche
Web Site
Rich
Freeman
THERMOFORMING DIVISION HOT LINE 800-233-3189
Roger Kipp, Chairman, Extension 225 at McClarin Plastics, Inc.
Membership/
Marketing
Mike Sirotnak
OPCOM/
Contract Review
Mike Lowery
Conference
Procedure
Lola Carere
Marketing
Support
Conor CarlinConference Coordination
Consultant
Gwen Mathis
2004 Conference
Indianapolis
Laura Pichon
2005 Conference
Milwaukee
Bob Porsche
2006 Conference
Nashville
Martin Stephenson
“AUTOMOTIVE PLASTIC FUEL TANK SYSTEMS”
BY K. W. ALBAUGH, BIELOMATIK – see page 11
Web Site: www.thermoformingdivision.com
PRE-CONFERENCE EDITION

CHAIRMAN’S CORNER

STRATEGY … POSITIONING
FOR SUCCESS

The Thermoforming Division, like

all successful business organizations,

needs to operate with long-range

goals and objectives. The goals and

objectives provide the basis for our

strategy and planning. Our Executive
Committee has provided this long-range planning to
our National Society as part of the 2005 Pride Compliance
Report, submitted in February.

Long-term we see the need to continue to develop
and refine strategic planning that provides continuity,
consistency and a cohesive vision within our Board and
from our Board. This is vital as each Chairman only has
two years (six Board meetings) at the helm. In order to
continue to meet the mission of facilitating the advancement
of Thermoforming Technology through education,
application, promotion and research this strategy is
imperative. The primary goals supporting this challenge
are:

1) We must maintain sufficient resources to meet
the obligations we have committed to. This will involve
growing and maintaining membership and
membership values.

2) Provide continuing maintenance of operating procedures
to assure consistency within our efforts.

3) Provide ongoing evaluation of the succession
within the Executive Committee in order to assure continuity.

4) Maintain an open forum for new ideas. Encourage
and promote fresh participation to assure cohesive
growth. This is a goal that will need the involvement
of all of our plastics’ associates.

The short-term goals developed through committee
communication and achieved through committee work
position us for successful completion of our long-term
goals. Please note the roster of Board Members on the
inside of the last page of the Thermoforming Quarterly.
We have added the Technical Committee affiliation of
each Board Member. We invite you to communicate with
the Board your ideas for achieving our missions.

The assimilation of new ideas and participation needs
to be generated from outside our Board activity.

Alliance – The forum for creative thinking
and energy.

Our Industry, Society, Division and Members need
to look outside for added development input. The
Thermoforming Division and Society have initiated formal
alliances with “competing” organizations to set a

BY ROGER KIPP, CHAIR

path of knowledge sharing that will open opportunities
for all participants.

• The Society of Plastics Engineers has announced
an alliance with the American Management Association
(AMA). As an SPE Member, we will receive significant
savings and invaluable educational resources.
The AMA can support workforce development
through practical business training seminars, conferences,
and online information. It is up to each of us to
make use of this valuable asset.
• The Thermoforming Division has an alliance with
the Decorating and Assembly Divisions involving conference
participation. Please plan to attend and support
these workshops at our Milwaukee Conference.
• A plan for developing an alliance with other Divisions
is in place with our “Exactly What is
Thermoforming” DVD providing an introduction. “It’s
About Plastics,” an expansion of multi process knowledge
and understanding can only strengthen the plastics
industry and our individual growth.
• The alliance with the European Thermoforming
Division is growing with plans for mutually beneficial
programs and program support currently in the
planning stage between your Chairman and Ken
Braney, Chairman of the European Division.
It is my hope that our alliance feedback will provide
thoughts and energy for business and personal
growth to our members and members’ companies.

Please provide your thoughts on the strategy of alliance
for success.

Sincerely,

Roger C. Kipp, Chairman

Ken Braney, Chairman, European Thermoforming Division, and
Roger Kipp, Chairman, Thermoforming Division in U.S., growing
PARTNERSHIP.

THERMOFORMING DIVISION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
James A. Alongi – 2006

MAAC Machinery
590 Tower Boulevard
Carol Stream, IL 60188-9426
TEL (630) 665-1700
FAX (630) 665-7799
jalongi@maacmachinery.com

Machinery Committee

Jim Armor – 2008

Armor & Associates
16181 Santa Barbara Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
TEL (714) 846-7000
FAX (714) 846-7001
jimarmor@aol.com

Materials Committee

Phil S. Barhouse – 2006

Creative Forming
100 Creative Way

P.O. Box 128
Ripon, WI 54971
TEL (920) 748-1119
FAX (920) 748-9466
phil.barhouse@creativeforming.com
Materials Committee

Michael Book – 2007

C&K Plastics
159 Liberty Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840
TEL (732) 549-0011
FAX (732) 549-1889
mike@candkplastics.com

Processing Committee

Arthur Buckel – 2008

McConnell Co., Inc.
3452 Bayonne Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
TEL (858) 273-9620
FAX (858) 273-6837
artbuckel@thermoforming.com

Processing Committee

Lola Carere – 2008

Thermopro, Inc.
1600 Distribution Drive
Suite D
Duluth, GA 30097
TEL (678) 957-3220
FAX (678) 475-1747
lcarere@gouldinc.com

Materials Committee

Conor Carlin – 2008

Sencorp, Inc.
400 Kidd’s Hill Road
Hyannis, MA 02601
TEL (310) 487-3287
FAX (323) 874-7849
ccarlin@sencorp-inc.com

Machinery Committee

Bob Carrier – 2006

C & K Plastics
159 Liberty Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840
TEL (732) 549-0011 EXT. 203
FAX (732) 549-1889
bob@candkplastics.com

Processing Committee

Richard Freeman – 2006

Freetech Plastics
2211 Warm Springs Court
Fremont, CA 94539
TEL (510) 651-9996
FAX (510) 651-9917
rfree@freetechplastics.com

Processing Committee

Hal Gilham – 2007

Productive Plastics, Inc.
103 West Park Drive
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08045
TEL (856) 778-4300
FAX (856) 234-3310
halg@productiveplastics.com

Processing Committee

Ken Griep – 2008 Vin McElhone – 2007 Mike Sirotnak – 2007

Portage Casting & Mold, Inc.

Stand-Up Plastics

Solar Products
2901 Portage Road

5 Fordham Trail

228 Wanaque Ave.
Portage, WI 53901

Old Saybrook, CT 06475

Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442
TEL (608) 742-7137

TEL (860) 395-1133

TEL (973) 248-9370
FAX (608) 742-2199

FAX (860) 395-1181

FAX (973) 835-7856
ken@pcmwi.com

vjmpacesales@aol.com

msirotnak@solarproducts.com

Machinery Committee

Materials Committee

Machinery Committee

Donald C. Hylton – 2007

Stephen R. Murrill – 2006

Walt Speck – 2007

646 Holyfield Highway

Profile Plastics Corp.

Speck Plastics, Inc.
Fairburn, GA 30213

65 S. Waukegan

P. O. Box 421
TEL (678) 772-5008
Lake Bluff, IL 60044

Nazareth, PA 18064
don@thermoforming.com

TEL (847) 604-5100 EXT. 21

TEL (610) 759-1807

Materials Committee

FAX (847) 604-8030

FAX (610) 759-3916
SMurrill@thermoform.com

wspeck@speckplastics.com

Bill Kent – 2008

Processing Committee

Processing Committee

Brown Machine

330 North Ross Street

Dennis Northrop – 2006

Dr. Martin J. Stephenson, Ph.D. –

Beaverton, MI 48612-0434

Avery Dennison

2006

TEL (989) 435-7741

Automotive Division

Placon Corporation
FAX (989) 435-2821

650 W. 67th Avenue

6096 McKee Road
bill.kent@brown-machine.com

Schererville, IN 46375-1390

Madison, WI 53719-5114

Machinery Committee

TEL (219) 322-5030

TEL (608) 275-7215
FAX (219) 322-2623

TEL (800) 541-1535

Don Kruschke – 2007

Dennis.Northrop@averydennison.com

FAX (608) 278-4423

Stopol, Inc.

Materials Committee

mstep@placon.com

31875 Solon Road

Materials Committee

Solon, OH 44139

Laura Pichon – 2008

TEL (440) 498-4000

Ex-Tech Plastics

Jay Waddell – 2008

FAX (440) 498-4001

11413 Burlington Road

Plastic Concepts & Innovations,
donk@Stopol.com

Richmond, IL 60071

LLC

Machinery Committee

TEL (815) 678-2131 Ext. 624

Tolers Cove
FAX (815) 678-4248

1653 Marsh Harbor Lane

Mike Lowery – 2007

lpichon@extechplastics.com

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464-4569

Premier Plastics

Materials Committee

TEL (843) 971-7833

9680 S. Oakwood Park Dr.

FAX (843) 971-7898

Franklin, WI 53132

Robert G. Porsche – 2006

jwaddell@plasticoncepts.com

TEL (414) 423-5940 Ext 102

General Plastics, Inc.

Processing Committee

FAX (414) 423-5930

2609 West Mill Road
mikel@lowerytech.com

Milwaukee, WI 53209

Brian Winton – 2007

Processing Committee

TEL (414) 351-1000

Modern Machinery
FAX (414) 351-1284

P. O. Box 423
Wm. K. McConnell, Jr. – 2008

bob@genplas.com

Beaverton, MI 48612-0423

McConnell Co., Inc.

Processing Committee

TEL (989) 435-9071

3030 Sandage St.

FAX (989) 435-3940

P.O. Box 11512
Brian Ray – 2008

bwinton@modernmachineinc.com

Fort Worth, TX 76110

Ray Products

Machinery Committee

TEL (817) 926-8287

1700 Chablis Avenue
FAX (817) 926-8298

Ontario, CA 91761
billmc@thermoforming.com

TEL (909) 390-9906

Materials Committee

FAX (909) 390-9984

brianr@rayplastics.com

Machinery Committee

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Contents

Thermoforming

®

Q U A R T E R L Y

TECHNICAL SECTION

Lead Technical Article:

Automotive Plastic Fuel Tank Systems …………………………………………………………. 11

Industry Practice:

Design Features of a Multi-Cavity Mold Used for High-Cyclic Thermoforming . 15

Industry Practice:

Thermoforming: Growth & Evolution, Part II ………………………………………………. 19

News Release:

Irwin Research and Wonderpack’s Joint Venture …………………………………………. 23

Thermoforming 101:

Comparing Concept to Reality ……………………………………………………………………. 24

Book Review:

Understanding Plastics Testing ……………………………………………………………………. 27

University Spotlight:

Millersville University …………………………………………………………………………………. 28

DIVISION ACTIVITIES

Chairman’s Corner …………………………………………………………Inside Front Cover
Membership Memo: Membership is an HONOR!……………………………………… 2
New Members ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
2005 Thermoformer of the Year …………………………………………………………….. 4
Thermoformer of the Year 2006 Nomination Form …………………………………. 7
Spring 2005 Board Meeting Schedule……………………………………………………… 8
Council Report …………………………………………………………………………………….. 30
Membership Application ……………………………………………………………………… 37
Index of Sponsors ………………………………………………………………………………… 40
Board of Directors List…………………………………………………….Inside Back Cover

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Radiant Efficiency = Energy Savings

You can’t have one without the other!

Solar Products can offer you
maximum energy savings along with:

Lower cycle rates • Lower reject rates
Greater heater life • Greater oven uniformity

Don’t be fooled by claims of outrageous energy
savings. Ask your heater supplier to provide
documented proof of radiant efficiency.

Ask for Solar Products on your next new machine
purchase or for that old machine retrofit.

Tel (973) 248-9370
Fax (973) 835-7856

228 Wanaque Ave., Pompton Lake, NJ 07442 www.solarproducts.com

A NOTE TO
PROSPECTIVE
AUTHORS

TFQ is an “equal opportunity”
publisher! You will note that we have
several categories of technical articles,
ranging from the super-high tech
(sometimes with equations!), to
industry practice articles, to book
reviews, how to articles, tutorial
articles, and so on. Got an article that
doesn’t seem to fit in these categories?
Send it to Jim Throne, Technical Editor,
anyway. He’ll fit it in! He promises. [By
the way, if you are submitting an
article, Jim would appreciate it on
CD-ROM in DOC format. All graphs
and photos should be black and white
and of sufficient size and contrast to
be scannable. Thanks.]

Thermoforming

®

QUARTERLY

A JOURNAL PUBLISHED EACH CALENDAR
QUARTER BY THE THERMOFORMING DIVISION
OF THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS

Editor

Gwen Mathis

(706) 235-9298 • Fax (706) 295-4276
gmathis224@aol.com
Technical Editor

Dr. James Throne

Sherwood Technologies, Inc.
1797 Santa Barbara Drive
Dunedin, FL 34698-3347
1-800-273-6370 • Fax (727) 734-5081
throne@foamandform.com
jthrone@tampabay.rr.com

Sponsorships

Laura Pichon

(815) 678-2131 Ext. 624
Fax (815) 678-4248
lpichon@extechplastics.com
Thermoforming Quarterly® is published four times annually
as an informational and educational bulletin
to the members of the Society of Plastics
Engineers, Thermoforming Division, and the
thermoforming industry. The name, “Thermoforming
Quarterly®” and its logotype, are registered trademarks
of the Thermoforming Division of the Society
of Plastics Engineers, Inc. No part of this publication
may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without prior written permission of the publisher,
copyright holder. Opinions of the authors are their
own, and the publishers cannot be held responsible
for opinions or representations of any unsolicited
material. Printed in the U.S.A.

Thermoforming Quarterly® is registered in the US
Patent and Trademark Office (Registration no.
2,229,747).

1 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

MEMBERSHIP MEMO

Membership is an
HONOR!

BY MIKE SIROTNAK, MEMBERSHIP CHAIRMAN

B
B
y now, all of you have re

tic equipment, DVD’s,

teresting. Bob Porsche and
ceived the DVD “What

Thermoforming Quarterly, tech-

Gwen Mathis have put
Exactly is Thermoforming?”

nical conferences, trade

together a first-rate confer-
By now, some of you may

shows to name a few. We are

ence. The technical program
have even watched it. I urge

a division of action not just

is focusing on recent advanceeach
and every one of you to

talk. And that is something to

ments in our industry. Walt
watch this outstanding, short

be proud of. I urge each and

Walker and Ed Probst are
synopsis of our industry. Due

every one of you to actively

doing an outstanding job.
to its enormous popu-

Please remember to
larity, we just ordered

support the Parts
its second printing. Ad-MEMBERSHIP REPORT Competition; it takes a
ditional copies can be

lot of effort to set up

as of 3/1/05

requested from any

and coordinate and the
Board member. The

awards look awesome

Primary Paid …………………..1,230

DVD is available by

in your lobby. Joe Pedownloading
it from

ters will be handling

Secondary Paid ………………….449

our web site,

the competition for the
www.thermoforming Total Membership …………..1,679 first time, so there is
division.com. We have

even for reason to be

Goal as of 6/30/2005 ………2,000

received requests for

concerned. As always,
additional copies from

please support the exmaterial
manufacturers, pro

recruit new members. My

hibit floor. We cannot have a
cessors, professors and even

goal is to have our member

conference like we do without
recruiters. We encourage you

ship numbers challenge those

all those great, loyal exhibito
spread the news. Your feed

of the more high profile in

tors.
back is always welcome.

dustries. We offer so much

I look forward to seeing all
Our division continues to

more than the other divisions;

of you in Milwaukee and
be the trendsetter of the Soci

we should have better mem

appreciate all of your sup

ety of Plastic Engineers. The bership numbers. port.
focus of the division contin-Now is the time to start God Bless
ues to be educating our inplanning
for Milwaukee. This America!
dustry through scholarships, year’s technical program and 
matching grants for scholastrade
show should be very in-

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 2

To Our New Members

Shawn Aldana
General Plastics
Milwaukee, WI

Adam W. Barton
Cincinnati, OH

Kelly Bennett
Southern Plastics
New Bern, NC

Brian A. Bentley
Livonia, MI

Adam Bishop
Spray Control

Systems
Blooming Prairie,

MN

David A.

Branscomb
John Deere Co.
Molina, IL

Hector C. Cabezas
Moverol CA
Valencia,

Venezuela

Brian T. Carvill
Pactiv Corp.
Lake Forest, IL

Lam Chuan Lim
Parade Mfg/
Federal Terrioto,

Malaysia

Alfonso Diez-

Gutierrez
Tapones Y

Articulos De

Distribution
Jiutepec, Morelos
Mexico

Joan Dorsey
Don’s Specialities
Goodlettsville,

TN

Daniel Drzik
Walton Plastics
Walton Hills, OH

Kenneth H.
Franklin

Packaging
Machinery
Services

Cleveland, OH

Cress Hanenkratt
Poly Hi Solidur
Fort Wayne, IN

Robert D. Hirsch
Solvay Advanced
Polymers
Alpharetta, GA

Sarah J. Holthaus
Trompealeau, WI

James Hunnicutt
CorStone
Industries
Greenville, AL

Kenny Jensen
Spray Control
Systems

Blooming Prairie,
MN

Andre K. Johnson
Sicklerville, NJ

John R. Kennedy
Jaco Plastics
Plainfield, NJ

Daniel P.
Ketchpel
Industrial
Forming
Goleta, CA

Scott Koetje
Solo Cup Corp.
Wheeling, IL

Dick Kruckegerg
Spray Control
Systems
Blooming Prairie,
MN

Babu Kuruvilla
Duni Corp.
Thomaston, GA

Chuck Marion

Velux-
Greenwood,
Inc.

Greenwood, SC

Donald C.
McCarthy
Georgia Pacific
Corp.
Neenah, WI

Doug McGinnis
Howell Packaging
Elmira, NY

Tricia McKnight
Society of Plastics
Engineers
Brookfield, CT

Jim Meyer
Flaxpak Corp.
Phoenix, AZ

Bill J. Moore

Alltrista
Industrial
Plastics

Fort Smith, AK

Mark Nothnagel
Visy Industrial
Packaging

Melbourne,
Victoria
Australia

John D. O’Keefe
Walpole, MA

Dhavel N. Parikh
GE Plastics
Mt. Vernon, IN

Randy Paul
Plastics Ingenuity
Cross Plains, WI

Carlos Pineda
Flexpak Corp.
Phoenix, AZ

Dean Poelman
PSI
Olive Branch, MS

Ron Read

Anil Shah

Laurynas
Plastics Unlimited

Solo Cup Co.

Straukas

Preston, IO

Highland Park, IL

AB Snalge
Lithuonia

Gary J. Rief

Jeremy J.

Fox Valley Tool &

Simkowski

Douglas Van

Die

Reynolds Food

Eeuwen

Kaukauna, WI

Packaging

Lorco LLC
Visalia, CA

Sterling Heights,

Jaime Eduardo

MI

Salinas

Merie R. Snyder

Nikolau Alayon

Plastics

Nicole F.

Brazil

Machinery &

Whiteman
Matt M. Shade

Auxiliaries

Cargile Dow LLC
GS Engineering

Denver, CO

Minneapolis, MN
Sylvania, OH

Robert J. Whitish
David M. Smith

Plastics Ingenuity
Conyers, GA

Cross Plains, WI

WHY JOIN?

It has never been more important to
be a member of your professional
society than now, in the current
climate of change and volatility in the
plastics industry. Now, more than ever,
the information you access and the
personal networks you create can and
will directly impact your future and
your career.

Active membership in SPE:

• keeps you current
• keeps you informed
• keeps you connected
The question really isn’t
“why join?” but …

WHY NOT?

3 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

2005 THERMOFORMER OF THE YEAR

Manfred Jacob, Founder

Jacob Kunststofftechnik GmbH, Wilhelmsdorf, Germany

M
M
anfred Jacob was born in
Furth, Bavaria, Germany
in 1942.

His first contact with plastics
came in the family kitchen as
his father experimented with
expanded polystyrene and
started the first of many Jacob
plastic enterprises business in
the late 40s. Manfred went on
to become a world class gymnast
but a back injury forced
him off the German Olympic
team. Unable to launch his own
body into space, he joined the
German Air Force to make the
moves in a plane that he could
no longer make in the gym.

When Manfred was mustered
out of the air force he
made an attempt to buy a well
established thermoforming
business but could not come to
terms with the owner. On his
way home an almost chance
encounter with a friend’s
widow left with a small packaging
business led to his purchasing
the equipment and
Jacob Kunststofftechnik was
born 1st January 1973.
Manfred’s goal: To be an expert
in his chosen field.

The equipment consisted of
two Illig UA 100 thermoforming
machines, two horizontal
band saws and one
roller trim press. Total employment
for this new company
was 2.5 people with the main
thermoforming machine operator
being Manfred. So he set
out to learn his chosen craft. I

don’t know about the band
saws but the original Illig
Thermoformer is still in
Manfred’s plant to this day.

Driven by this vision of becoming
an expert, Manfred
Jacob Kunststofftechnik has become
one of the largest
thermoforming companies in
Europe. The Jacob Group’s capabilities
now include:

• High pressure formed
technical components
• Highly demanding Twin
Sheet formed technical
parts
• Thermoforming of continuous
fiber advanced
composite materials and
the cutting technology associated
with this process
• Traditional
custom
thermoforming business
in producing quality thin
gauge and large area thick
gauge parts
• Decorative Insert Molded
foils and parts with particularly
complex trim

ming associated with this

process

A short list of cars using
Jacob Dash and Interior Trim
components include:

Ford Mondeo, Ford Focus,
Mercedes SLK, PT Cruiser,
Renault Clio, Rover 45, and
Toyota Agenesis.

Manfred’s inventions are
many. One is cavity floor which
uses thermoformed parts and
self leveling cement to create a
solid floor with multiple track
ways below for air conditioning,
electrical wiring and
plumbing. This development
would allow the services to run
anywhere on an entire floor
plan and had become a standard
in Europe. Currently, over
one million square meters of
Cavity Flooring are used in
German office buildings alone.
Cavity Floor is also used in
buildings in Tokyo, London
and in South America.

His twin sheet baking pan
has replaced wooden trays dating
back to the dark ages, and
his Thermoformed composite
auto bumper is on its way to
being the standard for all of
BMW cars. To list all his inventions
and innovations in
thermoforming would take
more time and kill more trees
than is ecologically responsible,
but it’s safe to say if you
buy German thermoforming
equipment, or are in the packaging
industry, Manfred’s

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 4

ideas and enhancements are all
around you. His parts regularly
win awards in the annual
thermoforming parts competition.

Manfred is unquestionably a
visionary of some standing. He
also has the unique ability and
willingness to transmit the
message and his inbred enthusiasm
to all those around him,
as any visitor to his plant can
testify. He was also responsible
for forming the consortium
that supplied forming data in
relationship to simulation programs
on thousands of parts
enabling T-Sim to refine their
software and make it more accurate.

One of his visions was in approaching
a number of local
small, but highly technical design,
tooling and plastics companies,
and all experts in their
fields, to consider a form of
amalgamating together under
one roof. This has had a dramatic
effect on all involved.
Not only has it formed a tremendously
successful and professional
group, but each
individual company has profited
by this close association, an
example of synergy in its purest
form. This organization was
known as QIC and was established
in 1995. Much in the way
of new technology and product
ideas have come out of this collaboration.

This philosophy of becoming
stronger through association
with other thermoformers and
a willingness to share his
knowledge also played a
major part in Manfred’s long
involvement with the Thermoforming
Division of the SPE
and the ultimate birth of the
highly successful European

Thermoforming Division. How
did this come about?

Manfred became closely associated
with two like minded
companies, one in Holland and
another in the United Kingdom.
Personal relationships
flourished and they started to
meet regularly to share ideas
and set standards for processing
within their companies.
They also would regularly visit
the U.S. for the annual
thermoforming conferences.

Since those early days,
Manfred has been an active
participant in the annual
thermoforming conferences.
Many of us remember his presentation
of the “State of the
Thermoforming in Europe,”
given at the 1995 conference in
Independence, Ohio where he
made many of us aware of
some very interesting alternatives
to the way things were
done in the U.S.

Knowing that most European
producers would never
make it to the U.S. for conferences,
the idea of a European
thermoforming conference began
to take shape. With help
from the thermoforming division,
a European “trial” conference
was held in the spring of
1997 at the Manfred Jacob
Kunststofftechnik facility,
Wilhelmsdorf, Germany. It was
here that the term “Spirit of
Thermoforming” was first
used.

Spurred on by the success of
the event in Germany, a group
of six European Thermoformers
visited Chicago for a
meeting with the SPE and the
Thermoforming Division to
discuss forming the European
thermoforming division. The
decision was made not only to

form the division, but also to
attempt to hold an International
thermoforming conference
in March 1998 in Ghent,
Belgium. since then four more
highly successful European
conferences have been held
and in the first SPE Division
outside of the U.S. “The European
Thermoforming Division
of SPE” was founded.

At the last conference in
Viareggio, Italy, Manfred was
honored as the father of that division.
He was awarded for his
services to the ETD and to the
European thermoforming industry
in general.

Now semi retired, Manfred
still spends time inventing,
teaching his grandchildren English,
as well as golfing, skiing
and driving as close to mach
speed as the autobahn allows.



5 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

THERMOFORMER OF THE YEAR
CRITERIA FOR 2006

E
E
very year The SPE Thermoforming
Division selects a individual
who has made a outstanding
contribution to our industry and
awards them the Thermoformer of
the Year award.

The award in the past has gone
to industry pioneers like Bo Stratton
and Sam Shapiro, who were among
the first to found thermoforming
companies and develop our industry.
We have included machine designers
and builders Gaylord Brown
and Robert Butzko and toolmaker
John Greip, individuals who helped
develop the equipment and mold
ideas we all use today. We have
also honored engineers like Lew
Blanchard and Stephen Sweig, who
developed and patented new methods
of thermoforming. Additionally,
we have featured educators like Bill
McConnell, Jim Throne and
Herman R. Osmers, who have both
spread the word and were key figures
in founding the Thermoforming
Division.

We’re looking for more individuals
like these and we’re turning to
the Thermoforming community to
find them. Requirements would include
several of the following:

.Founder or Owner of a
Thermoforming Company
.Patents Developed
.Is currently active in or recently
retired from the Thermoforming
Industry
.Is a Processor – or capable of
processing
.Someone who developed new
markets for or started a new trend
or style of Thermoforming
.Significant contributions to the
work of the Thermoforming Division
Board of Directors
.Has made a significant educational
contribution to the
Thermoforming Industry.
If you would like to bring someone
who meets some or all of these
requirements to the attention of the
Thermoforming Division, please fill
out a nomination form and a oneto
two-page biography and forward
it to:

Thermoforming Division Awards

Committee

% Productive Plastics, Inc.

Hal Gilham

103 West Park Drive

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08045

Tel: 856-778-4300

Fax: 856-234-3310

Email:
halg@productiveplastics.com

You can also find the form and see all the past
winners at www.thermoformingdivision.com in
the Thermoformer of the Year section.

You can submit nominations and bios at any time
but please keep in mind our deadline for
submissions is no later than December 1st of
each year, so nominations received after that
time will go forward to the next year.

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 6

Thermoformers of the Year …

1982

William K. McConnell, Jr.
McConnell Company

1983

E. Bowman Stratton, Jr.
Auto-Vac Corp.
1984

Gaylord Brown

Brown Machine

1985

Robert L. Butzko

Thermtrol Corp.

1986

George Wiss
Plastofilm Industries

1987

Dr. Herman R. Osmers

Educator & Consultant

1988

Robert Kittridge
Fabri-Kal Corporation

1989

Jack Pregont
Prent Corporation

1990

Ripley W. Gage

Gage Industries

1991

Stanley Rosen
Mold Systems Corp.

1992

Samuel Shapiro
Maryland Cup
Sweetheart Plastics

1993

John Grundy
Profile Plastics

1994

R. Lewis Blanchard
Dow Chemical
1995

James L. Blin
Triangle Plastics

1996

John Griep
Portage Casting & Mold

1997

John S. Hopple, Hopple Plastics

1998

Lyle Shuert, Shuert Industries

1999

Art Buckel
McConnell Company

2000

Dr. James Throne
Sherwood Technologies

2001

Joseph Pregont, Prent Corp.

2002

Stephen Sweig, Profile Plastics

2003

William Benjamin,
Benjamin Mfg.

2004

Steve Hasselbach, CMI Plastics

THERMOFORMER OF
THE YEAR 2006

Presented at the September 2006 Thermoforming Conference in Nashville, Tennessee

The Awards Committee is now accepting nominations for the 2006
THERMOFORMER OF THE YEAR. Please help us by identifying worthy candidates.
This prestigious honor will be awarded to a member of our industry that has made
a significant contribution to the Thermoforming Industry in a Technical, Educational,
or Management aspect of Thermoforming. Nominees will be evaluated
and voted on by the Thermoforming Board of Directors at the Winter 2006 meeting.
The deadline for submitting nominations is December 1st, 2005. Please complete
the form below and include all biographical information.

Person Nominated:_______________________________________ Title: _____________________
Firm or Institution: _________________________________________________________________
Street Address: _____________________________ City, State, Zip: ________________________
Telephone: _________________ Fax: _________________________ E-mail: _________________

Biographical Information:

•
Nominee’s Experience in the Thermoforming Industry.
•
Nominee’s Education (include degrees, year granted, name and location of
university)
•
Prior corporate or academic affiliations (include company and/or institutions,
title, and approximate dates of affiliations)
•
Professional society affiliations
•
Professional honors and awards.
•
Publications and patents (please attach list).
•
Evaluation of the effect of this individual’s achievement on technology and
progress of the plastics industry. (To support nomination, attach substantial
documentation of these achievements.)
•
Other significant accomplishments in the field of plastics.
•
Professional achievements in plastics (summarize specific achievements upon
which this nomination is based on a separate sheet).
Individual Submitting Nomination: _______________________ Title: _____________________
Firm or Institution: _________________________________________________________________
Address: ____________________________________ City, State, Zip: ________________________
Phone: ____________________ Fax: _________________________ E-mail: _________________

Signature: ______________________________________ Date: ____________________
(ALL NOMINATIONS MUST BE SIGNED)

Please submit all nominations to: Hal Gilham,
Productive Plastics, 103 West Park Drive
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey 08045

7 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

THERMOFORMING
DIVISION
SPRING 2005
BOARD MEETING
SCHEDULE

May 4 – 8, 2005

National Plastics Museum
Sheraton Four Points Hotel
Leominster, Massachusetts

RESERVATIONS:
CALL 978-534-9000

REQUEST SPE ROOM RATE OF $95.00
(Deadline for reservations April 4, 2005)

35 miles from Boston Logan Airport

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Executive Committee Arrive

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Sheraton Four Points
Boardroom

9:30 am – 5:00 pm – Executive Committee –
Boardroom
Friday, May 6, 2005
Sheraton Four Points

8:00 am – 9:30 a.m. – Technical Chairs meet
with Executive Committee – Boardroom
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Machinery Committee
Meeting – Gershwin Room
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Materials Committee
Meeting – Cole Porter Room
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Processing Committee
Meeting – Irving Berlin Room
8:00 a.m. – 3:00 pm – Other Committee
Meetings – Rodgers & Hammerstein Room
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm – Tour National Plastics
Museum
Lunch & Dinner on Your Own

Saturday, May 7, 2005

7:30 am – 8:30 am – Breakfast – National
Plastics Museum
8:30 am – Noon – Board of Directors Meeting
-National Plastics Museum
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Tour Plastics Museum
1:30 pm – Board Bus at National Plastics
Museum – Box Lunch on Bus – travel to
Universal Plastics for Plant Tour
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Hosted Cocktail
Reception at Colony Club – DRESS CODE:
JACKET & TIE
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm – Dinner – Colony Club
7:00 pm – Bus Trip back to Sheraton Four
Points in Leominster
Sunday, May 8, 2005
Depart

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 8

These sponsors enable us to publish

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming

QUARTERLY

Visit the
SPE
website
at
www.4spe.org
9 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

THERMOFORMING DIVISION PRESENTS CHECK TO SPE

The SPE Thermoforming Division is shown presenting the proceeds from a 50/50 split from the net proceeds of the 2004 Thermoforming
Conference in Indianapolis. The check was in the amount of $49,136.68. Shown, left to right, are: Karen Winkler, International SPE
President; Jack Hill, Thermoforming Board Member; Gwen Mathis, Conference Coordinator; Susan Oderwald, SPE Executive Director;
and Roger Kipp, Thermoforming Division Chairman.

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Milwaukee
Thermoforming QUARTERLY 10

LEAD TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Automotive Plastic Fuel Tank Systems1

BY KENNETH W. ALBAUGH, BIELOMATIK, INC., NEW HUDSON, MI

Abstract

The manufacturing of Plastic Fuel Systems [PFS]
is an ever-changing and technology-driven field.
The field is influenced by governmental emission
standards that are becoming tougher to meet with
plastic fuel tanks. Several new technologies have
been developed to accommodate the environmental
legislative changes.

Introduction

PFS have evolved over many years. The first plastic
tank was produced in Germany in the mid 1970s.
Fuel systems are a tightly regulated product falling
under local, state and federal standards for
safety and emissions. Today automotive plastic fuel
tanks are produced in North America only by a
handful of large Tier I suppliers. The manufacturing
of PFS is a very large financial undertaking and
is burdened with a tremendous amount of liability.
Products are required to meet or exceed regulations
up to 15 years and/or 150,000 miles from the
date of the auto sale.

Most automotive gasoline applications that use
a PFS call for a six-layer COEX material construction.
This is currently configured with outer and
inner layers of high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
Two layers of linear low-density PE (adhesive)
sandwich an ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) core.
The material code2 for the tank is . Figure 1 illustrates the typical layer
configuration.

1 This paper was presented at 2004 SPE ANTEC. Twin-sheet
thermoforming is currently being touted as a method for making
automotive gas tanks. This paper provides an overview of the current
status of and the standards that must be met by automotive
plastic fuel tanks. The paper has been edited by the technical editor,
who accepts all responsibility of any errors or omissions.

2 Ed. Note: This is the European standard notation. The typical

U.S. notation for this material combination is .
Figure 1. Typical COEX layer configuration.

Process Methods and Equipment

The following paragraphs will provide a very
brief description on manufacturing of PFS. Each
company has its own very unique way of producing
PFS and thus only very basic information can
be discussed.

The product begins in the molding phase. This
is accomplished today by two basic processes. The
first is traditional continuous extrusion blow molding.
The other are the newly developed
thermoforming processes. The blow molding process
uses a six-layer continuous extrusion head and
creates a circular parison. The parison is transferred
from the extrusion head to the mold via two methods.
The most common method is parison transfer
via industrial robot with a specialized end of arm
tooling. The shuttle machine style, illustrated in
Figure 2, is also used.

Figure 2. Typical blow molding machine.

(continued on next page)

11 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

Thermoforming uses two pre-extruded six-layer
sheets. The sheets are loaded into a machine and
sent through a reheating oven. When hot, they are
transferred to vacuum tools and formed into final
molded shapes.

Blow molding has the ability to control wall
thickness more accurately during the molding process.
Also a blow-molded part has only a pinch edge
on the parison ends, whereas a thermoformed part
has a pinch edge on the entire circumference of the
part.

The key area in the molding process is the pinch
edge, Figure 3, which is the area where the parison
or sheets are welded together under pressure of the
molding machine. The pinch area must have the
correct compression to allow for all layers to flow

.

evenly to the edge of the part to create proper adhesion
and thus withstand all the vehicle level requirements
for burst and environmental testing.

Figure 3. Typical COEX pinch edge.

Deflashing is the next phase in the process. Here
the excess material is removed from the molded
tank. This phase can be accomplished by automation,
Figure 4. Some companies still do this manually.
Regardless of the method, the trimming
operation is very important to insure that no material
is removed that should not be. This area is key
to the future success or failure of the product. The
structural integrity of this area of the tank is required
to insure that the tank will withstand all tests
and specifications and function correctly in the
field.

Figure 4. Deflashing System.

Cooling is also important. The cooling process is
required to ensure that the tank is cooled in a manner
that will produce repeatable and predictable
dimensions for the finished product and then
proper fit and function at the OEM. Care must be
taken to remove the excess heat from the product
in a controlled manner. This is done today using
air-cooled fixtures, water-cooled fixtures, and/or
ambient air. As a rule, the product is cooled from
100/110°C to 50/40°C, but some companies cool
parts to room temperature, 21°C.

The finishing and welding phase of the manufacturing
process is when all the needed openings
are machined or bored and all external mounted
valves, fittings and clips are welded to the tank.
With ever-tightening requirements for emissions,
all Tier I companies are trying to keep the number
of openings to a minimum.

Typical weldments are valves. The valves welded
to fuel tanks consist of inlet or fill spuds and vapor
management devices. The majority of valves
welded to the tank are called grade vent valves or
fuel limit level vent valves. These valves are used
to control vapor levels in the tank and to allow vapors
to escape to filtering systems or even to the
engine vapor management system. Fill or inlet
valves are designed to allow the tank to be filled
and yet keep the tank isolated in no-fill conditions
or crash situations.

The finishing operations are completed using
several styles of devices. Chipless boring is the most
popular method and includes fixed mounted bor-

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 12

Figure 5. Typical robotic boring method.

Figure 6. Typical boring head.

ing heads to robotically mounted six-axis cutting
systems. Figures 5 and 6 show typical boring methods.
In the chipless method, a cutting knife is inserted
into the plastic and rotated using low
revolution speeds and high torque. Cutting scrap
material is retained on the boring head and deposited
in a recycle receptacle. Other types of surfacing
and peeling operations can also be done, but
these usually produce cutting debris.

After the openings are machined, the required
valves are welded to the tank. Today this is done
using hotplate welding. Alternative techniques
such as spin welding, vibration, infrared, laser and
ultrasonic welding techniques have all failed to
meet the tough validation requirements and process
constraints. Over many years of fuel tank production,
hotplate welding has proved capable of

producing welds having strengths that are 90%95%
of parent material strength. The hotplate welding
process is also compliant with all sections of
the Federal Vehicle Motor Safety Standards
(FVMSS) Section 301 for Crashworthiness.

Hotplate welding is defined in DIN Standard
1910. The standard states, “Plastic welding is pressure
welding with the application of heat and force
with or without filler material. The energies introduced
are thermal conduction, radiation, friction
(internal and external friction), convection and electrical
energy.” Hotplate welding uses three distinct
phases, Figure 7. Phase one is heating during which
the highest force is applied to the part to remove
any surface imperfections and increase thermal conductivity.
Changeover time is next. This is the time
from the point when the hot plates are removed
from between the component and tank and the
component and tank move together. The seal phase
is when the two components are homogenized and
cooled under pressure.

Figure 7. Hotplate welding process diagram.
The typical welding process includes process parameters
that are adjusted. The main parameters
are melt time, temperature, and applied pressure.
The melt time for a typical fuel tank weld of 50 mm
diameter is 20-25 seconds. The changeover time is
3-5 seconds and the seal time is 15-20 seconds. The
total process time is 38-50 seconds. The factor that
influences this time is part-to-part flatness. Part
temperature and part wall thickness are also major
contributors to this time. Most welding plates are
aluminum bronze at 250-270°C.

(continued on next page)

13 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Figure 9. Typical layer configurations.

(continued from previous page)

Most hotplate weld testing is destructive testing.
Tensile pull or push testing and microtome analysis
are usually done. OEMs have different requirements.
The main test requirement for hotplate
welding is 2000N removal force on a penetrating
weld. Approximately 1.0 mm of homogenized materials
and 1.0-1.25 mm heat emersion is required
and determined by microtome. All customers use
the “double bead” criterion for operational speed
inspection. This is a very subjective criterion but it
is the industry standard for non-destructive visual
inspection. Figures 7-9 illustrate the hotplate welding
process, tool, and cross-sections of completed
welds.

Assembly and testing is done using various types
of OEM equipment and are very part specific as to
design and content. OEMs often require specific
leak testing methods to find OEM-specific leak
rates. Hard vacuum leak testing is the most widely
used technology. It is capable of detecting leak rates
of 5 x 10-4 std cc/sec at 13.5 kPa pressure differential.
Another popular method is ultrasonic bubble
detection. This method is capable of determining

Figure 8. Typical hotplate tank-welding units.

leak rates of 5 x 10-3 std cc/sec at 13.5 kPa applied
pressure.

New Technology and Requirements

As federal emissions standards change from LEV
I (Low Emission Vehicle) requirements to LEV II
and now to PZEV (Partially Zero Emission Vehicle)
over the next few years, new testing methods and
standards are being developed to insure full compliance
to regulations. Tier I suppliers are
transitioning to new technologies for producing
these lower emission fuel systems. Many companies
are exploring alternative processing methods
to push the current processing limits to meet the
new standards. These include but are not limited
to internalization of all valves and components. Another
solution is that all external mounted components
have some form of post-welding treatment.

The suppliers of plastic tanks must keep apprised
of the steel industry, which is making good progress
on steels and coatings that can meet the 15-year,
150,000-mile requirement. The steel industry is already
able to meet zero permeation requirements.

Summary

All tier suppliers are working hard to meet federal
standards and are coming up with very innovative
solutions that will carry plastic fuel systems
for the next 30 years.

General References

J. Rotheiser, Joining of Plastics Handbook,
Hanser/Gardner Publications, Cincinnati OH,
1999.
D. Rosato and D. Rosato, Blow Molding Handbook,
Hanser/Gardner Publications, Cincinnati
OH, 1988.
J. Korte and J. Natrop, Welding of Plastic Fuel Tanks,
Bielomatik GmbH, Neuffen, Germany, 1999.
Anon., U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal
Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations,
Section 301, Washington DC, Mar 1999. 

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 14

INDUSTRY PRACTICE

Design Features of a Multi-Cavity Mold
Used for High-Cyclic Thermoforming

BY STANLEY R. ROSEN, PLASTIMACH CORPORATION, LAS VEGAS, NV1

A
A
ll mold systems are designed for a specific
model of roll fed continuous thermoforming
machines and incorporate its specifications
within the tooling layout. Parameters for the
mold system dimensions are available within the
machinery operating manuals.

Essential data includes stroke for each platen,
maximum and minimum open and shut height
dimensions for both of the moving platens as well
as the footprint of the mold area. A complete
mold system comprises much more than just the
forming cavities; it includes all of the tooling
components that make up a complete system.
New mold projects often must be held within
tight budgetary constraints, as cost is always an
important consideration that dictates final mold
features.

A mold system consists of two major
stand-alone sub-assemblies

The mold base assembly is composed of cavities
(either male or female), temperature-controlled
mold base, front and rear sheet clamps (occasionally
four sided clamps) and spacer bars (Fig. 1).

The opposite mating half comprises either a pressure
box or a vacuum seal off box, plugs for female
cavities or assists for male cavities, and
spacer bars (Fig. 2).

The mold base, pressure and vacuum seal off
boxes are available in both adjustable or fixed
length configurations. Adjustable tooling has the
advantage of multiple usages for a variety of cavities
that are less than 2 inches high. Conducting
heat from the top surface of a cavity to the tem

1 Stan Rosen is 1991 Thermoformer of the Year and author of
Thermoforming: Improving Process Performance, Society of
Manufacturing Engineers, Dearborn MI. The material presented
here is taken from his book, available at www.sme.org.

Figure 1. Mold base assembly.

Figure 2. Pressure box assembly.

perature-controlled mold base becomes less effective
as its height increases. All-purpose tools
are less thermally efficient when compared to a
properly designed dedicated mold. Variable
length tooling may offer only an approximate fit
for the most economical cavity layout, thereby
creating additional scrap areas within the formed
shot. A simple cost comparison of the combination
of slower production output and the additional
scrap versus the cost of new dedicated
tooling will determine which path to follow.

Compromise in the selection of some of the following
mold features may be necessary to meet
a specified mold budget

(continued on next page)

15 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

1. Choice of male or female cavities is often
based on what is the best thermoforming
option for a high quality part. However, in
many cases, either type of cavity would suit
the process and a male cavity is often half
the cost of a female cavity; male cavities do
not require a plug for proper function and
it is less expensive to machine the exterior
Figure 3. Female cavity plug and the pressure box.
of a cavity than its interior (Fig.3).
2.
The number of cavities specified determines
the number of usable components formed
with any given machine cycle. Each additional
cavity increases the incremental cost
of the mold. Therefore, the total quantity of
formed parts ordered is the major determinant
used when deciding on the number of
cavities per mold.
3. Utilizing existing tooling components for a
new project can result in considerable savings.
This option should be weighed against
possible increased plastic waste and inefficient
cavity cooling if the existing mold base
is too large.
4. Maximizing thermal efficiency of a cavity
may necessitate cooling passages within or
around the cavity, requiring fluid inlet ports
flowing from the mold base. The additional
plumbing can be costly, leaving the option
of specifying a less effective cooling mode,
which can reduce production output per
hour.
5. An ejection method for difficult or undercut
parts formed on a multi-cavity mold requires
accurate information based on
experimental evidence gleaned from a prototype
cavity. Air blow off ejection is the simplest
procedure and has a zero cost if it can
effectively accomplish the task. The most
direct and certain method of ejection is a mechanically
activated knockout, which entails
considerable expense and must be initially
designed into the mold. Other solutions
might include modifying a continuous undercut
segment into one which is interrupted
or Teflon® coating the cavity to ease
ejection and still allow the formed part to
be functional. Teflon® coating acts as a release
medium but adds an additional thermal
barrier to part cooling, further reducing
productivity. It is important to note that
Teflon® is difficult and dangerous to remove
from a cavity once it is baked on metal. Always
consider this coating to be permanent
once it has been applied.

6. It is foolhardy to build a multi-cavity mold
without first forming a sample part from a
prototype cavity. A drawing of the formed
part may be geometrically correct, but it
does not tell us anything about its rigidity.
The “squish” test of a sample in the buyer’s
hands provides the last word on the subject.
Details to be developed for the design of mold
layout

1.
Choice of resin determines the plastic shrinkage
coefficient that will be used to increase
the dimensions of a mold cavity. The cooled
plastic formed part then will shrink to its
specified size. Any change in thermoforming
resin after a cavity is fabricated can
cause serious size alteration of the finished
product.
2.
Computing the minimum cavity center-to-center
dimensions will provide the most effective
use of the available cavity area.
a) Female cavities may be grouped as
tightly as is mechanically practical.

b) Male cavities need to achieve a compromise
for the most desirable center-to-center
dimensions. Details shown on Fig. 4
are an attempt to provide a guide to the
most efficient layout. If the cavities are
grouped too closely together, webs can

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 16

form and the sidewalls may thin out unacceptably.
When cavities are set too far
apart, they waste mold space and create
unnecessary plastic scrap.

Figure 4. Male mold standard cavity separation.

D = A + {L – 2 (F x tan E)}

where:
D = center-to-center of cavities (A + B), in. (mm)
A = base dimension of the cavity, in. (mm)
B = separation of cavities measured at the base of cavity, in. (mm)
L = F for small draft angles less than 5°

or
L = F x 0.75 for draft angles greater than 5° (maximum angle

used is 10° for this calculation)
F = cavity height, in. (mm)
E = draft angle of cavity, °

3.
Good layout procedures for most polygon or
round cavities, both male and female, are
best aligned in straight rows to simplify later
trimming operations. Triangular parts can
be nested to make best use of available mold
area. Alternating high and low profile mold
section aids in distributing the part wall
thickness (Fig. 5).
4.
Cavities closest to the chain index rail have two
factors affecting their placement. This area
may have a different sheet-heating pattern
than the rest of the web due to the heat loss
to the metal chain rail and may require an
increase of edge distance to maintain part
quality. The pressure box wall thickness dimension
should be added to the cavity edge
distance allowance (Fig. 6).
5. The maximum overall length of the mold
in the index direction cannot be greater than
the maximum index stroke of the chain.
Overall length of the mold includes the
thickness of the front and rear sheet clamps.
A rear sheet clamp prevents webs from
forming in the back row of the cavities. The
previously formed shot retains enough residual
heat to become distorted when the
mold is closed if not protected by the action
of the front sheet clamp gripping the web.
Figure 5. Alternating high and low profile male cavity sections.

Figure 6. Fixed mold base space requirements.

Properties of male or female cavities

The natural thermoformed wall thickness distributions
of male and female cavities are 180°
opposite to each other when not aided by plugs
or assists. A part formed on a male cavity is
thicker in its top plane and a female cavity is thinnest
at its base. This type of distribution results
as the hot plastic chills when it contacts the first
metallic mold face it touches during
thermoforming.

A fairly uniform wall thickness can be achieved
by utilizing a mechanical aid (plug or assist)
mounted in the pressure box to pre-stretch the
hot plastic just before vacuum or pressure is
activated. Timing is important to prevent the
mechanical aids from chilling the sheet and disturbing
the distribution within the cavity. By prestretching
the hot sheet, these devices help to
discourage the formation of webs and result in a
more uniform wall thickness distribution.

Plugs which tend to remain in intimate contact
with the sheet for a relatively long time can
be fabricated from either temperature controlled

(continued on next page)

17 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

aluminum or insulated syntactic foam to minimize
heat transfer from sheet to plug. Large corner
radii and smooth surface finish are used to
reduce the plug’s coefficient of friction, which
helps the hot plastic slip smoothly over the plug.
A new prototype plug often is altered during
development of a thermoformed prototype
sample to avoid costly modification after a multicavity
mold is completed.

Cavity materials and fabricating techniques

Many sorts of materials have been used to fabricate
a thermoforming cavity – wood, plaster,
epoxy, silicone rubber, and even concrete. All of
the materials named are very poor conductors
of heat and may find occasional use in forming a
few prototype parts or for slowly producing
small quantities of parts. Continuous production
thermoforming machines require rapid heat
transfer to achieve economic speeds in the range
of 10-30 cycles per minute. Only aluminum, copper
and silver have a high enough heat conductivity
coefficient to meet the cyclic conditions.
Aluminum meets the low weight and cost criteria
as a practical all-around mold material. Aluminum
mold cavities from the earliest days of
thermoforming have been cast in fine sand using
a carved wooden pattern as the model for
the cavity. However, since the advent of computer-
aided machining, the majority of molds are
now machined from aluminum plate or bar, with
each cavity an accurate twin to the others.

Aluminum-filled epoxy cavities can be operated
economically on continuous forming equipment
(3-8 cycles per minute) if they are relatively
thin 0.38 to 0.63 inches (9.7 to 16 mm) high and
mounted directly on a temperature-controlled
mold base. These cavities can be fabricated to
reproduce complicated detail from a model and
are far less costly than a machined aluminum
mold for this purpose.

Methods for quickly venting male and female
cavities during the thermoforming process

Venting of cavities can be accomplished using
small drilled holes, thin slots or porous non-metallic
mold materials (Fig. 7). Female cavities often
require a low pre-vacuum 3-5 inches of mercury
(21 to 35 kPa) to evacuate the majority of

Figure 7. Male cavity base vent slot is exhausted through a large
diameter backup hole.

residual air volume when plug forming. All of
these methods attempt to purge the air between
the hot sheet and the cavity in the shortest possible
time so that thermoforming can take place
as rapidly as possibly. If any air remains entrapped,
pimples and fisheye blemishes will appear
on the flat planes of the shot.

Commonly used drilled vent holes of #76-.020
inches (0.5 mm) in diameter leave only a small
cosmetic blemish which is generally acceptable
but its vent area is quite tiny .0003 sq. in. (0.196
sq. mm). A venting slot .015 in. (0.4 mm) wide x

1.00 in. (25.4 mm) long has an area 50 times as
great and will increase air evacuation by that
multiplier. Porous mold materials can be used
on flat faces to successfully vent all the residual
air but may cause low clarity on transparent plastics
and excessive wear problems on fine detail
surfaces.
A female cavity requiring a plug increases the
internal cavity air pressure as the plug’s rapid
movement displaces the cavity air volume. The
internal cavity pressure can be lowered by judicious
use of a low vacuum. A high vacuum can
cause the sheet to lose contact with the plug and
thin out both part bottom and walls. A very weak
vacuum may cause air pressure to build up, resulting
in bursting the sheet and ruining the shot.

When very large quantities of shots are to be
thermoformed, the tooling cost per unit part becomes
negligible and the mold can be designed
to incorporate every desired production feature.
When lesser quantities are to be produced, the
mold budget decides which features will be selected,
to the detriment of efficient output. Design
engineering of all products is a compromise
of what a customer is willing to pay versus what
he is willing to accept. 

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 18

INDUSTRY PRACTICE

Thermoforming: Growth and Evolution1
Part II

BY JAMES L. THRONE, SHERWOOD TECHNOLOGIES, INC., DUNEDIN, FL 34698 AND
PETER J. MOONEY, PLASTICS CUSTOM RESEARCH SERVICES, ADVANCE, NC 27006

Abstract

Thermoforming is the process of heating and
shaping plastic sheet into rigid containers, components
of final assemblies, and stand-alone end-use
parts. The value of all thermoformed parts produced
in North America in 2003 exceeded U.S. $10
billion. Traditionally, about 3/4 of all thermoformed
products are produced from sheet of 1.5 mm or less
in thickness and are primarily rigid disposable
packaging products. Most of the rest is produced
from sheet of 3 mm or more in thickness and are
primarily durable structural goods.

Thermoforming has benefited by its ability to fabricate
thin-walled parts having large areas, using
relatively inexpensive, single-sided aluminum tooling.
Its deficiencies – variable wall thickness, the
added cost of sheet and trim regrind, and extensive
trimming and additional cost to reprocess the
trim – are offset by the ability to economically produce
low-volume, thick-walled parts or high-volume
thin-walled parts.

The advances in thermoforming technology in
the past decade have allowed the industry to grow
at a rate that exceeded the growth rate of the plastics
industry in general. However, this pattern has
changed in the past few years. Newer advances in
plastic materials, tooling, forming machinery, and
auxiliary equipment are needed to regain earlier
growth rate momentum.

This paper considers several emerging technologies
such as forming composite sheet materials,
surface decoration, and new material development.
It also considers the effect of globalization on both
thin-gauge and heavy-gauge domestic
thermoformers.

1 The authors were invited to present this paper in a special session
at 2005 SPE ANTEC, but the abstract was not accepted. It is
in two parts. The first part was published in TFQ 24:1, 1Q05.

“New” Technologies to Advance the
Industry

As pontificated in Part I, many extant technologies
have not been fully exploited. This section
highlights some of those technologies that appear
to provide thermoformers with future market advantage.

Forming Composite/Laminated Structures

Heavy-gauge thermoforming has very thoroughly
mined the “pretty part” or “easy” applications,
where the part is made of unreinforced plastic
and is designed to be incorporated into or fastened
onto a supporting structure. Formers now
need to go beyond their current comfort zones to
new materials and processing variants. There are
two general types of formed structures – singlelayer
composite materials that are formed into nonappearance
parts, and thermoformed “skins” or
“shells” that are thermoformed, then backed with
composite materials.

Single-Layer Composites. A military drone structure
made of matched-mold glass-reinforced nylon
composite was an early commercial application
of a non-appearance single-layer structural product.
The composite bumper structure for the recent
BMW 5 vehicle is another single-layer composite
application. The reinforcing medium is usually either
woven or non-woven continuous glass mat.
In general, matched tooling is required and the
sheet must slip or slide into the mold to avoid substantial
fiber breakage (1). Furthermore, the force
needed to bend the composite into even gentle
shapes is usually quite high. As a result, forming
presses for such applications are more akin to compression
molding presses than conventional
thermoforming presses.

(continued on next page)

19 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

Most applications have focused on forming thick
composite sheet (2). However, composite sheets
having thicknesses less than 1.5 mm (0.060 inches)
are now commercially available (3,4). Glass levels
are typically 10% to 20% by weight, but they can
be less, depending on the applications. The focus
will be on structural applications where the parts
must have large surface areas but must be thinwalled.

Laminated Structures. The plastics industry has
had success commercializing multilayer structures
where one of the layers is a high-performance composite
and another layer is a cosmetic shell. The
best example is found in the sanitaryware industry
where spas, shower stalls, and tub surrounds
are fabricated of thermoformed ABS sheet that are
backed with spray-up chopped fiberglass-reinforced
polyester resin (FRP). Automotive innovators
such as DeLorean and Bricklin adopted similar
techniques in the 1980s to produce exterior car
parts. Today some models of the SMART car in
Europe boast of laminated parts.

The resurgence of this technology is due in part
to automated methods of handling the reinforcing
layer. Robots apply the fiberglass- or filler-impregnated
resin (often polyurethane) to the formed
“skin” residing in the lower half of a matched mold
press. Then the press is closed, expressing air and
compressing, shaping, and fully reacting the reinforcing
layer. Although the automotive industry
was apparently the first to adopt this technology,
the marine and farm equipment industries are actively
pursuing it (5,6).

In-Mold Decoration

In-mold decoration is not a new concept. Paper
labels with pressure-sensitive adhesive layers were
developed for thin-gauge containers in the 1980s.
And rotational molders have been pre-applying
heat-activated decoration to mold surfaces for a
decade or more. Recently the automotive industry
has been considering paint film technology as a way
of minimizing the economic cost and environmental
hazards of conventional “wet” exterior surface
painting (7).

Paint film can be either single-layered or multilayered.
Polycarbonate is the preferred single-layer

paint film (8). Multi-layer films are usually structures
on the order of 0.5 mm (0.020 inches) in thickness.
The film consists of at least a high-gloss,
weatherable and durable clear outer layer (e.g., a
fluoropolymer), a pigmented color layer, and a supporting
substrate (9). This film is laminated to a
structural sheet. To maintain surface gloss, the laminated
sheet is very carefully heated and formed,
usually against a male mold. To prevent color wash,
care must be taken to ensure that the film is not
stretched. Although there have been a few successful
applications, the high current film cost, the concern
with reprocessing regrind, and the degree of
difficulty forming the part are mitigating against
rapid non-automotive market penetration.

Nanofillers and Nanofibers

Nanomaterials are substances having dimensions
in the range of 1 to 100 nanometers (0.001 to

0.1 mm). There are at least three general categories
of nanoparticles – carbon nanotubes, intercalcated
platelet particles of clay, and near-spherical particles
of silica. Carbon-based nanotubes and larger-diameter
nanofibers are apparently destined for reinforcement
of specialty plastics (10). Nanoclays, primarily
intercalated montmorillonite clays, are
touted for their reinforcing effects at very low
weight fractions of 10% by weight or less (11).
Nanosilicas are touted for their ability to increase
polymer strength and stiffness without dramatically
decreasing impact strength, because the particle
sizes are below the Griffin crack initiation size
(12). Polymer viscosities are not greatly affected
even at loadings in excess of 40 wt-%.
It appears that nanoclay-filled polymers offer opportunities
in thin-gauge part thermoforming
where stiffness is now achieved only with increased
thickness. Polyolefins have good chemical and high
temperature resistance but they tend to be weak at
elevated temperatures. They appear to be prime
candidates for nanoclay fillers.

Nanosilicas are being considered for heavygauge
part forming applications. To date,
nanosilicas are best dispersed in prepolymers that
are then polymerized. Cast PMMA is one example.
Because the filler particles are so small, forming
forces should be substantially more modest than
those for equivalently loaded glass-fiber reinforced

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 20

sheet. Improved mechanical strength can lead to
substantial reduction in formed part wall thickness
in many industrial parts. Moreover, down-gauging
usually leads to improved cycle time and lower
production cost. And because nanoparticle sizes
[about 20 nm] are far below the wavelength of light
[400-700 nm], highly filled cast acrylic sheet remains
transparent.

Nanofillers are finding early application in lowviscosity
thermosetting prepolymers. Although addition
to higher-viscosity thermoplastic polymers
is being intensely researched today, uniformity in
particle dispersion and distribution through the
polymer matrix, and production cost remain
major concerns. Nevertheless, the unique property
improvements that might be achieved indicate that
the thermoforming industry must continue to
monitor this new technology.

Others

In this section, we simply highlight some other
technologies that might influence future
thermoforming developments.

Porous mold materials. There are now two commercial
types of porous mold materials – porous
aluminum and porous ceramic. Porous aluminum
is best used when vacuum or vent hole mark-offs
are not acceptable on the formed parts. Open areas
and pore sizes range from 8% and 5 m (13) to 20%
and 100 m (14,15).

Porous ceramics, used for years as liquid and gas
filters and high-temperature diffusion plates, can
now be fabricated directly into mold structures.
Open areas and pore sizes can be tailored to essentially
the same characteristics as porous metal. As
with porous metal, the ceramic is mixed with a
volatile material such as a polymer. The slip is
formed against the pattern and dried. It is then fired
to vitrify the ceramic and volatilize the pore-forming
material. Shrinkage is about 30% or about the
same shrinkage level as porcelain. Although the
porous ceramics tend to be fragile, they are usually
tough enough to be used for a few hundred
parts (16).

Newer Polymers. The earliest polymers – camphorated
cellulose nitrate and viscose rayon – were

based on biological materials. Today, oil-based
polymers dominate the thermoforming material
palette. However, biopolymers are finding new interest,
particularly in rigid packaging applications
where compostability and biodegradability are
desired. Polylactic acid or PLA, invented by Wallace
Carothers in 1932, patented by Dupont in 1954, and
available today primarily from Cargill Dow, is the
leading polymer in this area (17,18). PLA processes
as a “stiff polystyrene.” Although it is currently
more expensive than current packaging materials,
its “earth friendliness” often outweighs the additional
cost.

Biopolymers based on polyhydroxybutyrate
(PHB) may also offer thermoforming opportunities.
PHB is reported to be a rather brittle highly crystalline
polymer with properties similar to those of
polystyrene. When copolymerized with
polyhydroxyvalerate (PHV), the polymer degradation
rate at elevated temperature is greatly reduced
(19). It is thought that these polymers are best suited
for medical applications.

Polymers based on norbornene are now commercial
(20). These cycloolefins are produced by reacting
ethylene or propylene with cyclopentadiene.
The polymers are amorphous with glass transition
temperatures that can be increased from 30°C to
230°C by increasing the norbornene content. Commercial
grades have norbornene concentrations of
40 to 60 mol-% and Tgs from 70°C to 170°C. They
are FDA food contact-approved and steamsterilizable.
It is reported that cycloolefins process
more like PVCs than polyolefins.

Although these materials are not yet major players
in thermoforming, there appear to be many future
packaging applications.

“Moldless” prototyping. Since the 1930s, heat has
been used to produce generous bends in plastics
(21). Strip heating was introduced during WWII
and again the allowable bends were generous. Cut
sheet was fabricated into sharp-edged shapes by
gluing. The objective of making sharp bends without
excessive gluing has always required accurate
machining techniques. Computer-driven three-axis

(continued on next page)

21 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

(continued from previous page)

machines are now being used in conjunction with
precise bending protocols and exacting gluing procedures
to produce very elaborate structures directly
from sheet (22). These allow designs to be
very quickly reduced to prototypes or commercially
functional products.

Summary

Thermoforming, being the art and engineering
of fabricating functional plastic parts from sheet, is
maturing into a viable, competitive technology in
packaging and structural parts. The future of
thermoforming depends on quickly adapting advances
in composites, nanofillers, and other commercialized
technologies. The global scene will
undoubtedly dictate future business decisions regarding
offshore production, consolidation, and
diversification.

References

1.
Throne, J.L., Technology of Thermoforming, Hanser
Verlag, Munich, 683 (1996).
2.
Azdel GMTTM, Azdel Inc., 25900 Telegraph Rd.,
Southfield, MI 48034.
3.
PennFibre, 2434 Bristol Rd., Bensalem, PA, 19020.
4.
VeriflexTM thermoset polymer, CRG Industries,
2750 Indian Ripple Rd., Dayton, OH, 45440.
5.
DKI Form a.s., Rundforbivej 281, DK-2850
Naerum, Denmark.
6.
VEC LLC (formerly Virtual Engineered Composites
Technology division of Genmar Holdings),
639 Keystone Rd., Greenville, PA, 16125.
7.
Hilgendorf, J.S., “Automotive Exteriors – Evolving
to No-Spray Paint?” Plastics Engineering,
60:9, 34, 37 (Sep 2004).
8.
LexanTM SLX polycarbonate, GE Advanced Materials,
Southfield, MI.
9.
Spain, P.L., et al, “Dry Paint Transfer-laminated
Body Panels Having Deep-Draw High DOI Automotive
Paint Coat,” U.S. Patent 5,916,643, assigned
to Avery Dennison Corp., (29 Jun 1999).
10.
The NanotubeSite lists dozens of universities and
research laboratories active in C60 carbon-based
nanotubes (and other geometries). Insofar as can
be determined, none of these sites provide applications.
The NASA nanotube site index has
“applications” as a topic, but the location is blank.
One major university active in this area is Inorganic
Chemistry Laboratory, University of Oxford,
South Parks Rd., Oxford OX1 3QR, UK.

11.
Nanocor, 1500 W. Shure Dr., Arlington Hts., IL
60004.
12.
Hanse Chemie AG, Charlottenburger Str. 9, 21502
Geesthacht, Germany.
13.
MetaporTM and EsporTM, Portec, Ltd., BarbaraReinhart-
Str. 22, P.O. Box 3139, CH 8404,
Winterthur, Switzerland.
14.
Pyramid Technologies, Inc., 467 Forrest Park Circle,
Franklin TN 37064
15.
Porvair Technology, Inc., Clywedog Road South,
Wrexham LL13 9KS, North Wales, UK.
16.
Mould D/ATLAS M 130 porous casting system,
ALWA GmbH, Roentgenstrasse 1, DE 48599,
Gronau, Germany. [Note: The air-permeable casting
system will tolerate 90°C mold temperature.
Shrinkage in the casting system is about 30%.]
17.
NatureworksTM, Cargill Dow LLC, P.O. Box 5830,
MS114, Minneapolis, MN 55440-5830
18.
Balkcom, M., B. Welt, and K. Berger, “Notes From
the Packaging Laboratory: Polylactic Acid – An
Exciting New Packaging Material,” Doc. ABE339,
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Dept.,
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of
Florida, Gainesville, FL (Dec. 2002).
19.
PHB and PHB-PHV copolymers available from
Goodfellow Corporation, 800 Lancaster Avenue,
Berwyn, PA 19312-1780.
20.
TopasR COC, Ticona, Div. Celanese AG, 86-90
Morris Ave., Summit, NJ, 07901.
21.
Lockrey, A.J., Plastics in the School and Home Workshop,
Governor Publishing Corp., New York City,
74-75 (1937).
22.
Tool-Less Plastic Technologies, LLC, 11208 47th Ave.
W., Suite B, SMukilteo, WA 98275. 
Correction: In Part I, we stated that the earliest rollfed
transformers were developed in Germany in the
1930s. Stan Rosen correctly pointed out that Clauss B.
Strauch Co. of Milwaukee, WI developed the first
machine in 1930.

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 22

Comparing Concept to Reality1

BY JIM THRONE, SHERWOOD TECHNOLOGIES, INC., DUNEDIN, FL

W
W
e began our discussion of
part design by reviewing
why we might not want to quote
on a job. If we are serious about
fabricating the customer’s concept,
we need to understand the
methodology in reducing a concept
to reality.

Naiveté v. Experience

Before we consider developing
a hard cost for a given
project, we need to ascertain the
technical level the customer
brings to the design. Most of us
have dealt with customers of at
least one of the following levels:

•
Expert Customer. Fully
cognizant of the advantages
and limitations of
thermoforming in general,
conversant of the plastics
characteristics, and having
a complete understanding
in the myriad ways of fabricating
his design, in particular.
•
Experienced Customer. Has
designed certain parts in
thermoforming in the past
but is not up-to-date, vis-a
vis2, newer processing techniques,
mold materials,
polymers, and so on.
•
A Non-Thermoforming
Technical Customer. Has
extensive experience in
blow molding, rotational
1 This is the second in a series that

focuses on part design
2 vis-à-vis, French for face-to-face, with
the usual meaning being “as compared
with” or “in relation to.”

THERMOFORMING
101
molding, or injection molding,
but has no knowledge
of the differences between
these techniques and
thermoforming.

•
A Technically Naïve Customer.
Knows little about
plastics and nothing about
thermoforming. Has always
purchased his plastic
products to either mate
with or package his nonplastic
products.
•
The Totally Naïve Customer.
Has a great idea
worked out on the back of
a Burger King napkin, has
no funding, no customer,
and no idea how to reduce
his idea to reality.
We all agree that it is very difficult
to treat each of these in the
same fashion. In other words, a
checklist of things necessary to
reconcile prior to quotation
might be too technical for the
naïve customer and an insult to
the experienced one. Nevertheless,
we should all keep in mind
before every take-off and landing,
the pilot and copilot are required
to complete an extensive
checklist, regardless of their
years of experience and the num

ber of times they had flown the
specific airplane. So let’s take a
look at a typical design checklist.

General Advantages
and Limitations of
Thermoforming

We all know the advantages
and limitations of our skills. But
the customer may not. So tell
him/her. Some advantages:

•
Lower tooling costs
•
Quicker design-to-prototype
time
•
Quicker prototype-to-production
time
•
Relatively wide selection of
polymers, grades
•
Large surface area per unit
thickness
•
Economic production of a
few pieces (heavy gauge)
or many, many pieces (thin
gauge)
Some limitations:

•
Non-uniform wall thickness
•
Single-surface molds
•
Hollow parts difficult
•
Sheet cost
•
Extensive trimming, recycling
needed
Thermoforming QUARTERLY 24

•
Mostly neat plastics (few
reinforced and highly filled
plastics)
•
Wide forming windows desired
(needed)
The Material Issue

We, along with the astute customer,
need to discuss material
choices in some detail. It is not
enough for the customer to
specify “general purpose polystyrene.”
He/she needs to work
with us to develop a list of property
requirements. In other
words, what are the elements of
the environment in which the
product must perform? Some
examples are:

* Environmental temperatures
(high and low)
* Corrosive/erosive conditions
* Static/dynamic loading conditions
* Impact conditions
* Surface quality
* Product lifetime
* Assembly restrictions (if any)
And we must all be aware that
some of these conditions are
compound. For example, the
product may need to withstand
dynamic loading at high temperature
in a corrosive environment.
And the customer must
understand that not all grades of
plastics that meet the desired criteria
are available in sheet form.

Before we can discuss design
concepts with our customer, we
need to review them ourselves.
We’ll continue this litany after
our review.

Keywords: advantages, limitations,
material choice, experienced
customer, naïve customer



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25 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

These sponsors enable us to publish

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Thermoforming QUARTERLY

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Standex Engraving Group
5901 Lewis Rd.
Sandston, VA 23150

Ph: 804/236-3065

Fax: 804/226-3462

Roger Fox David A. J. Morgese
(630) 653-2200
www.foxmor.com
Thermoforming QUARTERLY 26

BOOK REVIEW

Donald C. Hylton, Understanding
Plastics Testing, Hanser
Gardner Publications, Cincinnati,
2004, 92 + XII pages, $39.95.

O
O
ver the years, Hanser
Verlag, Munich and
Hanser Gardner, Cinty, have
been publishing introductory
softback texts in their “Understanding
…” series. Don Hylton,
Fellow of the Society and a longstanding
board member, recently
published this excellent
monograph.

Of course, this is not the first
book devoted to plastics testing.
My reference library includes
Vishu Shah’s Handbook of Plastics
Testing Technology, Vincent
Mathot’s Calorimetry and Thermal
Analysis of Polymers,
Gunther Kampf’s Characterization
of Plastics by Physical
Methods, and Nicholas
Cheremisinoff’s Polymer-Plastics
Test Methods. In addition
there are many other books that
relate test results to polymer
properties.

So, why do we need a new
book in plastics testing? Simply
put, nearly all books overwhelm
the beginning reader. For example,
Kampf details
“Thermoanalytic Methods” in
nearly 20 pages. If your objective
is to determine the extent of crystallinity
of your sample, Kampf
provides you with detailed
methodology and the equations.

The same is true regarding reduction
times for isothermal oxidation.
But if you just need a
clear explanation of the test to
see if you can use it to determine
a specific property, such as crystallinity,
you’ll be quickly overwhelmed
by Kampf’s detail.
And that’s where an introductory
text is valuable. Don describes
these tests in one page.

There are six chapters to the
Hylton book – The Science of
Testing, Understanding Polymers
and Their Behavior, Mechanical
Properties, Thermal
Testing, Viscous Flow Properties,
and Quality in the Testing Laboratory.
He lists 22 general references,
four Appendices, and 61/
2 double-columned index
pages. There are brief descriptions
of nearly all the tests of significance
to thermoformers,
including DSC, orientation and
shrinkage, melt index and intrinsic
viscosity (for the PET people).
The tests are usually identified
through their ASTM and ISO
numbers, where appropriate.
The monograph does have some
shortcomings, however. It does
not describe environmental tests
such as ESCR or UV degradation,
or mechanical abrasion, or
optical and color measurements,
or electrical characterization, or
flammability tests. This reviewer
hopes that when Hylton revises
this work, he will include at least
brief descriptions of these tests.
Ten or fifteen more pages, please,
Don!

The chapter on Quality is particularly
interesting, as it pre

sents Hylton’s philosophy on
laboratory quality. As he points
out, laboratory quality differs
dramatically from production
quality. Quality must be defined,
properties must be measurable
and controllable, documentation
must be required, and these criteria
must be universally accepted.
By “universally,” it
means by the tester, the laboratory,
production personnel, corporate
management, and above
all, by the customer. Hylton adds
“continuous improvement” to
the quality issue. I would also
add “repeatability.” If the lab
cannot repeat the test and obtain
the same result time after time,
quality cannot be defined. To
extend this further, if an independent
lab cannot duplicate the
in-house lab test results, quality
is not defined. Replacing “real
people” with robotic testers often
does not improve data consistency
for the simple reason
that a “real person” needs to calibrate
the mechanical critters and
qualify the resulting data.
Hylton concludes his monograph
with a listing of accrediting
and sanctioning agencies.

All in all, an excellent introductory
text for beginners and a
quick reference source for someone
needing general information
or just the ASTM number of a
specific test. I give it four books
out of five.

~ Jim Throne

27 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

UNIVERSITY HIGHLIGHT …
MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY

MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY GETS DIVISION
GRANTS FOR THERMOFORMING MACHINE

D
D
uring the 2004 academic
year, I (George Kerekgyarto,
on the right in the photo)
was fortunate enough to have
the time to research grant opportunities
in the polymer industry.
As part of my sabbatical leave I
was trying to expand a polymers
program for our Industry and
Technology program that consisted
primarily small bench top
equipment, most of which was
in disrepair. During the year we
were able to refurbish much of
the equipment. I discovered the
Society of Plastic Engineers
(SPE) had a Thermoforming Division
that provided assistance
to purchase new Thermoforming
equipment through a
unique grant opportunity. This
equipment would significantly
expand our capabilities in our
polymer lab. A grant was provided
and additional support
was provided by Hoover, Inc.,
MAAC, the manufacturer of the
machine, and Millersville University.
Dr. James Laporte (on the
left in the photo) worked with
me on this program. The MAAC
machine is behind us in the
photo.

Our polymer classes focus on
product development through
the design and construction of
patterns and molds. We begin by
teaching our students how to
replicate almost anything or create
new molds. We use plaster

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 28

and ceramic materials to teach

of casting by developing origibasic
mold development. The

nal pieces and replicating them
next step introduces RTV mold

by using the RTV mold process.
development. Students begin by

Multiple wax castings are proreplicating
existing intricate ob

duced from the RTV mold. A
jects, learning how to build a

wax tree is developed for the in-

Adding thermoforming … will
allow our students to expand their
abilities to produce molds.

mold for this procedure, which

vestment casting process and
is similar to plaster mold devel

multiple products are produced
opment. Blanket molds are intro

by the centrifugal casting
duced and students work with

method.
difficult patterns to gain the nec-

Adding thermoforming to this
essary experience. Students also

area will allow our students to
experience the lost wax method

expand their abilities to produce

molds. Student work will begin
with basic mold development of
some basic thermoforming
projects, emphasizing draft
angles, and proper mold procedures.
As students become
familiar with the MAAC
thermoformer they can then begin
to develop more complex
molds using CNC capabilities in
aluminum and wood, using a
production laboratory next door
to the polymers lab. Many of the
molds will be wood since the
amount of large runs will be
minimal. Most of the student
and faculty work will be prototype
development. We also will
begin developing more packaging
ideas for other production
and manufacturing classes. Having
the capability to do sophisticated
thermoforming, plug assist,
snap back etc. will allow our
students to understand and develop
ideas using state-of-the-art
thermoforming equipment.

This endeavor of acquiring a
MAAC thermoformer machine
was truly a cooperative effort.
Our thanks and gratitude to the
wonderful people at SPE who
were willing to support the Industry
and Technology program
at Millersville University with a
generous grant to purchase the
MAAC thermoformer. A special
thanks to MAAC corporation for
manufacturing the thermoformer
and their financial contribution
to the grant program.
Also a special thank you to HDJ
Corporation and Brown Transmissions
for contributing to the
shipping costs. 

Millersville University is located
in Millersville, PA,
muweb.millersville.edu.
Dr. Kerekgyarto can be reached at
George.Kerekgyarto@millersville.edu.
Dr. Laporte can be reached at
james.laporte@millersville.edu.

The FoxMor Group,
Inc. of Wheaton, IL,
the #1 sales
organization for
thermoforming
machines and
auxiliaries, is now
the sales arm for
Advanced Ventures
in Technology, Inc.
(AVT) of Gladwin,
MI. The firm designs
and manufactures
some of the world’s
largest and diverse
rotary
thermoforming
systems like the one
shown here.

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

29 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Council Report …
Atlanta, Georgia

BY STEVE HASSELBACH, COUNCILOR

T
T
his summary is intended to help
you review the highlights of the
Council Meeting held in Atlanta, Georgia
on January 22, 2005.

SPE President Karen Winkler called
the meeting to order.

The Council weekend format was as
follows:

• Council Orientation – this session
was provided again as an orientation
for the weekend.
• Council Committee of the Whole
– there was a separate shortened version
of the Council Committee of the
Whole meeting.
• Council Meeting – the format had
presentations followed by open discussion
on the presentations, and ample
time for general discussion.
Moment of Silence:

The Council recognized the passing
of the following members:

Barry Huguenin, inaugural President
of SPE New Zealand – on July 24,
2004 at the age of 53 after a short battle
with cancer.

George Pickering, SPE’s 1976 President
and member since 1959 – on October
13, 2003.

The thousands of Tsunami victims
who lost their lives this past December
were also included in the Moment
of Silence.
Elections:

Council elected the following people
as Society Officers for the 2005-2006
term, which begins at ANTEC (May 15).
President-Elect – Tim Womer
Senior Vice President – Vicki Flaris
Vice President (nominated by the International
Committee) – Hector Dilan

In addition to these formal offices,
each year Council also elects a Chair
for the Council Committee of the
Whole. Barbara Arnold-Feret will hold

this position for the 2005-2006 year.

Executive Director Update:

Susan Oderwald reviewed the financial
outlook for 2005. SPE is beginning
to stabilize revenues in some key areas
but still continues to operate under
financial pressure. With that in
mind, staff and the Finance Committee
have reviewed the 2005 approved
budget and have already developed
some revised expectations on revenue
and made adjustments to some expense
areas. A full reforecast for 2005
will be distributed to Council at the
end of the first quarter and every quarter
thereafter.

ANTEC remains SPE’s largest “risk”
in terms of overall financial performance.
Educational products continue
to be an area of concern. Susan was
pleased to report that we ended the
year with 20,106 members and are on
track to see continued modest growth
for the early part of 2005. SPE has
grown membership (month by prior
year month comparisons) every month
since July of 2004.

Susan also reported on SPE’s new
alliance with the American Management
Association (AMA) to provide
SPE members with seminar and other
educational access to AMA’s resources.
SPE members will be able to access
these programs at AMA member pricing.

SPE is organizing a formal committee
for the governance of Europe.

The SPE Foundation ended 2004 solidly
in the black. Additional members
have been added to the Foundation
Executive Committee, and recruitment
for a full Board of Trustees is in full
swing.

A copy of the full Executive
Director’s Report is available on the
website at http://www.4spe.org/

communities/leadership/0501/
materials.php.

Rebate Plan Proposal:

Bill O’Connell presented the recommendation
of the Rebate Committee,
the Finance Committee and the Executive
Committee that the rebates for
2005 that will be payable in 2006 return
to the plan and formulae that was
in effect before Council voted to suspend
rebates for the past two years.

Councilors participated in a group
exercise to rank various options for a
new rebate proposal for 2007 and beyond.
That proposal will be voted on
at the May Council meeting.
Other Business:

Presentations and discussions also
took place on the following topics:

State of the Society Discussion

ANTEC Activity Plan

Technical Advisory Board Update

SPE Europe Update

Committee/Officer Reports

2005-2006 Operating Plan

SEP Foundation Update

Membership AIM Update
2nd Reading Bylaw Amendment B

9.7:
The following second reading of a
proposed amendment to the SPE Bylaws
took place as follows:

All votes by Section Councilors, Division
Councilors, Councilors at Large,
or their proxies on issues that concern
changes to fees, dues, and/or rebates
shall be recorded to include the name
of the Section or Division they are voting
for (in the case of Councilors at
Large, they shall be listed as “Executive
Committee”), the name of the individual,
and how the person voted.
The records of any such vote shall be
available to any member of SPE via the
SPE International website. This posting
shall be available no later than ten

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 30

business days after the vote is counted.
This amendment was voted down.

1st Reading of Bylaw Amendment B

51:
The following first reading of a proposed
amendment to the SPE Bylaws
took place as follows:

The Executive Director shall remit to
each Section, Section-in-Formation,
Division and Division-in-Formation
Treasurer in January of each year rebates
and/or funds as set by the Council
following the approved procedure
set forth in Bylaw B-9. A rebate to a
Section-in-Formation or Division-in-
Formation shall be for a period of no
more than two years.
Committee Meetings:

Eleven committees met prior to the
Council meetings including:

Communications Committee

Conference Committee

Constitution & Bylaws Committee

Divisions Committee

Education Awards Committee

Executive Committee

Finance Committee

International Committee

Sections Committee

Student Activities Committee

SPE Foundation Executive

Committee

Presentations:

All presentations and supporting
documentation for Council and committee
discussions can be viewed on
the SPE website at: http://
www.4spe.org/communities/leadership/
0501/materials.php.
Contributions:

SPE is grateful to the following organizations
that made contributions in
support of SPE and The SPE Foundation:

• Jim Griffing, Composites Division:
$2,800 presentation from proceeds of
the Composites/Auto Division Conference
• Tom Sloss, Connecticut Section:
$1,000 to The SPE Foundation, representing
the fifth payment of a 5year
pledge
• Jordan Rotheiser, Decorating &
Assembly Division: $3,800 for 38
members; and profit share of $5,437
from TopCon
• Roger Kipp, Gwen Mathis and
Jack Hill, Thermoforming Division,
presented $49,136.68 from the proceeds
of the Thermoforming Conference

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

31 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 32

September 24-27, 2005
GET READY TO
SOAR AT THE
15th Annual
Thermoforming
Conference
Midwest Airlines Convention
Center
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
We need
your
continued
support
and
your
efforts
on
membership
recruitment!!

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Help Sponsor

Thermoforming®

Q U A R T E R L Y

ONE YR. SPONSORSHIPS

**Please note the increase in sponsorship
rates. This is the first increase since the
inception of the Thermoforming Quarterly
in 1981. We appreciate your continued
support of our award winning publication.

Patron – $625

(Includes 2.25″ x 1.25″ notice)

Benefactor – $2,000

(Includes 4.75″ x 3″ notice)

Questions?

Please Contact:

Laura Pichon

Ex-Tech Plastics
815/678-2131 Ext. 624
lpichon@extechplastics.com

We Appreciate Your Support!

From The Editor

Thermoforming Quarterly

welcomes letters from its

readers. All letters are subject

to editing for clarity and space

and must be signed. Send to:

Mail Bag, Thermoforming

Quarterly, P. O. Box 471,

Lindale, Georgia 30147-1027,

fax 706/295-4276 or e-mail to:

gmathis224@aol.com.

33 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 34

Thermoformers, have
you discovered a
forming tip that you
are willing to share
with your fellow
formers?
A time saver?
Or a cost saver?
Or something that
will save wear and
tear on your machine?
Or your employees?
Then the

TIPS

column
is for you!

Just send Jim Throne a fax at
727-734-5081, outlining your
tip in less than a couple
hundred words. You can
include drawings, sketches,
whatever. Thanks!

35 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

YOU
ASKED –
WE
LISTENED

Due to the many surveys
requesting that we
change the dates of the
annual Thermoforming
Conference, the Board
has listened and beginning
in 2006, we are
pleased to announce the
new dates.

Sunday,
September 17
through
Wednesday,
September 20,
2006

“CREATIVITY &
INNOVATION IN
THERMOFORMING”

Renaissance Nashville
Hotel & Nashville
Convention Center

General Chairman:
Martin Stephenson
Placon Corporation
Phone: 608-275-7215
E-Mail: mstep@placon.com

Technical Chairman:
Mike Lowery
Premier Plastics
Phone: 414-423-5940 Ext. 102
E-Mail:
mikel@lowerytech.com

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 36

MEMBERSHIP
APPLICATION
®
MEMBERSHIP
APPLICATION
®
37 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

These sponsors enable us to publish

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming

QUARTERLY

TIM WELDON
General Manager
(989) 793-8881
Fax (989) 793-8888
Email: timweldon@millermold.com
Thermoforming QUARTERLY 38
1305 Lincoln Avenue, Holland, MI 49423
PH (800) 833-1305 / FX (800) 832-5536
www.allenx.com
ABS ABSFR PCABS
HIPS HIPSFR GELOY
CENTREX LURAN NORYL
SOLARKOTE
A Tradition of Excellence Since 1970
When it comes to answering your
need for quality thermoform tooling,
you can’t find a better source
than Producto.

• Complete turnkey service
• Tooling machined and assembled
with precision
• Deliveries to suit your schedules
• Mold beds up to 70″ x 120″
• Engineering design using the latest
CAD systems and programming
technologies
• Gun drilling services and
Temperature Control Plates
• Adjustable Pressure Boxes
• Die sets, punches and dies, springs,
pins & bushings and a full line of
quality accessory items
Producto Corporation

800 Union Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06607

(203) 367-8675
FAX: (203) 368-2597

PRODUCTS / INC
plastics………
RAY
™
The Experts in
Thermoforming
1700 Chablis Avenue
Ontario, CA 91761
909/390-9906
800/423-7859
FAX 909/390-9896
www.rayplastics.com
Brian Ray
Janice Petersen
Vice President
“Get A Grip” on Your Profits!
PHONE: 989-426-5265
FAX: 989-426-5601
AM0210@A1ACCESS.NET
3872 WEST M-61
GLADWIN, MI 48624
WWW.NESCCO.COM
NescCo • National Extruded Sheet Clamping Company, Inc.
CUSTOM CUT SHEET & ROLL FED MACHINERY
OVEN, CONTROL & INDEX RETROFIT KITS
PATENTED ADJUSTABLE CLAMP FRAMES
3031 GUERNSEY ROAD, BEAVERTON, MI
PH: 989-435-9071 FAX: 989-435-3940
Email: info@modernmachineinc.com
These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY These sponsors enable us to publish
Thermoforming
QUARTERLY
ARES … CNC
MACHINING
CENTERS FOR
MACHINING
PLASTIC AND
COMPOSITE
MATERIALS
CMS NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Grand Rapids, MI
800.225.5267
Visit us on the web at:
www.cmsna.com
www.cms.it
or email us at
cmssales@cmsna.com
President
brianr@rayplastics.com
PRODUCTS / INC
plastics………
RAY
™
The Experts in
Thermoforming
1700 Chablis Avenue
Ontario, CA 91761
909/390-9906
800/423-7859
FAX 909/390-9896
www.rayplastics.com
Brian Ray
Janice Petersen
Vice President
“Get A Grip” on Your Profits!
PHONE: 989-426-5265
FAX: 989-426-5601
AM0210@A1ACCESS.NET
3872 WEST M-61
GLADWIN, MI 48624
WWW.NESCCO.COM
NescCo • National Extruded Sheet Clamping Company, Inc.
CUSTOM CUT SHEET & ROLL FED MACHINERY
OVEN, CONTROL & INDEX RETROFIT KITS
PATENTED ADJUSTABLE CLAMP FRAMES
3031 GUERNSEY ROAD, BEAVERTON, MI
PH: 989-435-9071 FAX: 989-435-3940
Email: info@modernmachineinc.com
These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY These sponsors enable us to publish
Thermoforming
QUARTERLY
ARES … CNC
MACHINING
CENTERS FOR
MACHINING
PLASTIC AND
COMPOSITE
MATERIALS
CMS NORTH AMERICA, INC.
Grand Rapids, MI
800.225.5267
Visit us on the web at:
www.cmsna.com
www.cms.it
or email us at
cmssales@cmsna.com
President
brianr@rayplastics.com
39 Thermoforming QUARTERLY

INDEX OF SPONSORS

ADVANCED VENTURES IN

TECHNOLOGY, INC. …………….. 39
ALLEN EXTRUDERS ……………….. 38
AMERICAN CATALYTIC

TECHNOLOGIES ……………………. 8
ARISTECH ACRYLICS ……………… 25
BROWN MACHINE ………………….. 35
BUNZL EXTRUSION ………………… 26
CMS NORTH AMERICA ……………. 39
CMT MATERIALS, INC. …………….. 38
EDWARD D. SEGEN & CO. ………. 36

ENSINGER/PENN FIBRE ………….. 32
FOXMOR GROUP ……………………. 26
FUTURE MOLD CORP. …………….. 39
GEISS THERMOFORMING ……….. 34
GN PLASTICS …………………………. 31
IRWIN RESEARCH &

DEVELOPMENT …………………….. 6
JRM INTERNATIONAL ……………… 25
KIEFEL TECHNOLOGY …………….. 32
KYDEX …………………………………… 40

LAND INSTRUMENTS ……………….. 9

These sponsors enable us to publish Thermoforming QUARTERLY

Thermoforming QUARTERLY 40

LANXESS ……………………………….. 31
LYLE ………………………………………. 10
MAAC MACHINERY …………………. 39
McCLARIN PLASTICS ………………. 38
McCONNELL CO. ………………………. 9
MILLER MOLD CO. ………………….. 38
MODERN MACHINERY ……………. 39
NESCCO ………………………………… 39
NEW CASTLE INDUSTRIES ……… 33
ONSRUD CUTTER …………………… 31
PLASTICS CONCEPTS …………….. 26
PLASTIMACH ………………………….. 35
PORTAGE CASTING & MOLD,

INC……………………………………….. 9
PREMIER MATERIAL CONCEPTS . 9
PRIMEX PLASTICS ………………….. 38
PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES .. 38
PRODUCTIVE PLASTICS, INC. …… 9
PRODUCTO CORPORATION ……. 38
PROFILE PLASTICS ………………….. 9
PROTHERM ……………………………. 26
RAY PRODUCTS, INC………………. 39
RTP ……………………………………….. 35
SELECT PLASTICS………………….. 39
SENCORP ………………………………. 40
SOLAR PRODUCTS ………………….. 1
SPARTECH PLASTICS …………….. 39
STANDEX ENGRAVING GROUP .. 26
STOPOL INC. ………………………….. 29
TEMPCO ELECTRIC ………………….. 8
THERMWOOD CORP…….Inside Back

Cover
TOOLING TECHNOLOGIES,

LLC …………………………………….. 25
TPS ……………………………………….. 26
ULTRA-METRIC TOOL CO. ……….. 36
WALTON PLASTICS…………………. 33
WECO PRODUCTS …………………. 26
WELEX, INC. …………………………… 33
ZED INDUSTRIES ……………………. 38

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